The CEO of a popular Umhlanga call centre was arrested after a large number of his employees were allegedly made to work during the national lockdown.
Mark Deva Chana, 46, appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday and was charged with contravening the regulations of the Disaster Management Act.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said he was arrested on Monday.
“I can confirm that on 30 March, members of the SAPS together with other government departments embarked on an intelligence-driven operation at a call centre in High Street, in Umhlanga Rocks. [Chana] was arrested.”
He said Chana was released on R5,000 bail.
A source with knowledge of the case told News24 that nearly 100 workers had been working without any physical distancing or hand sanitiser.
Cosatu provincial secretary in KZN, Edwin Mkhize, claimed they had experienced worker issues with the call centre for a while.
“I must say that for quite some time, we have had a challenge with that call centre. In our view, there has been a historic trend of worker exploitation,” he claimed.
He said the company did not want to help employees.
“They are not really empowering workers. We have tried to meet and speak to them. They employ around 8,000 or 9,000 people. They run four buildings in Durban alone. They mainly service overseas companies.”
Mkhize said workers were afraid to stand up to management.
“There has been a challenge to organise those workers. They tell us they are very scared to associate with the union, they are told they would be dealt with and lose their jobs if they do,” he claimed.
The accused’s next court date was yet to be confirmed.